By Bill Stansbeary
The Barron Hilton Cup has been the closest thing to heaven above earth for aviation sports competition for the last 25 years. This world’s largest gliding competition offers international participation and encourages pilots with international experience as well as newcomers to the sport of soaring.
The Barron Hilton Cup has long been a global event in association with the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company. Notable aviators joined the group of soaring pilots at a weeklong soaring camp at the Flying M Ranch south of Reno, Nev., making it a true celebration of friendship and flight, ending with an awards day on July 21.
The host was Barron Hilton, co-chairman of the Hilton Hotels Corporation. Honored guests were astronauts Neil Armstrong, Bill Anders and Ulf Merbold; aviator-adventurer Steve Fossett; Academy Award winning actor Cliff Robertson; and Chuck and Victoria Yeager. EADS was represented by Thomas Enders, co-chief executive officer; Ralph Crosby, president, EADS of North America; Christian Poppe, senior vice president, communications; and Allan McArtor, chairman, Airbus North America Holdings, Inc.
The Barron Hilton Cup representatives were Hannes Linke, competition director; Annette Reichmann, administrative director; Frank Franke, promotional director; and Patrick Barry, managing director.
This year’s Barron Hilton Cup champions were Uwe Hartman, Germany, open class; Herbert Weiss, Germany, 15-meter class; Petr Starek, Czech Republic, standard class; Jiri Kupec, Czech Republic, club class; Sven Killinger, Germany, double-seater class; Shinzo Takizawa, Australia; Nicholas Reekie, New Zealand; Gordon Boettger, U.S., West; Robert Templin, U.S., East; Holger Karow, Germany, open class world; and Christine Grote, Germany, women’s sports class.
The Barron Hilton Cup was founded in 1981 by two sportsmen who shared a fascination for soaring flight: Barron Hilton and Helmut Reichmann, a three-time world gliding champion, who was killed in a tragic accident 11 years later. With its extremely powerful weather conditions, strong thermals and the hospitality of Barron Hilton, the Flying M Ranch provides the best soaring conditions in the world. Some describe it as “aviation heaven.”